Lost and Alone in Sanatorium Delirium dans la forêt

You are just lost and alone in a massive lunatic asylum, you have no reason to freak out. You are just lost and alone in a massive lunatic asylum, you have no reason to freak out, I kept repeating this to myself as I quietly looked for the others in my first and favourite ever urban adventure. It wasn’t until I got home I found out that a sanatorium is just a hospital for people with infectious diseases and different from a sanitarium. Knowing that I am sure I would have felt much more comfortable.

This was the first stop on our big trip to France, we very nearly didn’t all make it into this one when a section of wall landed on James, he survived, but our exit had been turned into a concrete guillotine which we would have to climb through on the way out. The weather was sunny and also raining I felt like I was in a rainforest (well what I imagine a rainforest to be like). Suddenly through the trees I caught a fist glimpse of the newer building. It was about five times the size I had anticipated, this funny idea to come to France and nose round these forgotten places very quickly became real.

Inside it was corridor after corridor, room after room, just an incredible feeling to have a place the size of this all to ourselves. In all the excitement I had forgotten to bring the colour film, Not wanting to risk loosing my head in the guillotine I opted to shoot the HP5 I had in my bag.


After about 45 minutes I realised that I was lost and alone. This wouldn’t bother me to much ordinarily but I had 2% phone battery and absolutely know idea where in France I actually was. One call left. I dialled James no answer. Cock! After about 10 minutes of searching with an exponentially increasing heart rate I found the others at the other end of the building. I played it cool and we moved on.

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This was my favourite part of the whole day. We had heard that there was a second building and had promised ourselves we would have a quick look for it before heading home. We got to the third floor and looked out the window and this is what we saw rising out of the trees, it was like photography christmas had come twice in one day.


The second section was in better condition but didn’t have as much stuff in it. The older building was a lot less safe and for some reason I was the one who tested all the crumbling stair cases because I was “the lightest”. The climb was worth it in the end to find the most beautiful window and bath.

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I really like the look the black and white gave me and works as a great transition into this new project from my older black and white work. However I do need to return with some colour stock before time runs out on this place.

James (Urban-ographer) did a great write up on the history and also took a lot more images giving a much better scale of the hospital on his blog which can be found here. You can also find my new Facebook page here. Tomorrow we are heading out with a couple of other local photographers on a little day trip to the south of England. These will be some of our toughest entries yet and although I will be taking my stills camera I am going to focus on shooting a documentary following the process.